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Sen. Al Franken quits amid sexual misconduct allegations, points to GOP tolerance of Trump

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WASHINGTON — Sen. Al Franken, a rising political star only weeks ago, said Thursday he's resigning from Congress, succumbing to a torrent of sexual harassment allegations and evaporating support from fellow Democrats. But he fired a parting shot at President Donald Trump and other Republicans he said have survived much worse accusations.

"I of all people am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office, and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party," Franken said.

The 66-year-old Minnesotan, a former Saturday Night Live comedian who made a successful leap to liberal U.S. senator, announced his decision in a Senate chamber three weeks after the first accusations of sexual misconduct emerged but just a day after most of his Democratic colleagues proclaimed he had to go.

In largely unapologetic remarks that lasted 11 minutes, Franken said "all women deserve to be heard" but asserted that some accusations against him were untrue. He called himself "a champion of women" during his Senate career who fought to improve people's lives.

"Even on the worst day of my political life, I feel like it's all been worth it," he said.

Franken's departure, which he said would occur in "coming weeks," made him the latest figure from politics, journalism and the arts to be toppled since October. That's when the first articles appeared revealing sexual abuse allegations against Hollywood titan Harvey Weinstein and energizing the #MeToo movement in which women have named men they say abused or harassed them.

Democratic Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton will name a temporary successor, who will serve until a special election next November.

Franken's comments appended a melancholy coda to the political career of the one-time TV funnyman who became one of his party's most popular and bellicose liberals.

Just two days earlier, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., a civil-rights hero who'd been the House's longest-serving current member, resigned after facing sexual harassment allegations of his own.

On a 2005 audio tape released shortly before last year's presidential election, Trump is heard talking about grabbing women, and several women accused him of sexual assaults. Women in Alabama have accused GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore of unwanted sexual contact and pursuing romantic relationships when they were teenagers and he was in his thirties during the 1970s.

Asked about Franken's comment about him Thursday, Trump merely replied, "I didn't hear it, sorry."

At least eight women had accused Franken of inappropriate sexual behavior. Until this week, he'd said he'd remain in the Senate and cooperate with an investigation into his behavior.

The breaking point came Wednesday, when a former Democratic congressional aide said he forcibly tried to kiss her in 2006, an accusation he denied. Hours later, another woman said he'd inappropriately squeezed "a handful of flesh" on her waist while posing for a photo with her in 2009.

The accusations started last month when Leeann Tweeden, now a Los Angeles radio anchor, accused him of forcibly kissing her during a 2006 USO tour in Afghanistan. She also released a photo of him with his hands at her breasts as she napped aboard a military plane.

On Thursday, Franken walked to the Senate chamber shortly before noon, hand-in-hand with his wife of 35 years, Franni. As he spoke, members of his family watched from the visitors' gallery, some sobbing. Franken said that thanks to them, "I'm going to be just fine."

Almost two-dozen colleagues listened silently at their desks, some dabbing their eyes. Those watching were nearly all Democrats and many were women, including New Yorker Kirsten Gillibrand, who released the first of what became a flood of public statements Wednesday calling for Franken's resignation. Also present was Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, who one Democrat said had spent much of Wednesday persuading his friend to leave.

After Franken spoke, many of his colleagues lined up to hug him.

He said he was leaving because he couldn't handle an ethics panel investigation while representing his state effectively. He said he'd remain an activist: "I may be resigning my seat, but I am not giving up my voice."

A star on Saturday Night Live, the Harvard-educated Franken was elected to the Senate in 2008 by 312 votes. In Washington, he distanced himself from his comedic background, largely avoided national reporters and burrowed into consumer issues. He found his voice as a sharp critic of Trump administration officials and has been listed as a potential 2020 presidential contender.

His announcement prompted immediate maneuvering for his seat.

Among the possibilities for Minnesota Gov. Dayton's temporary appointment is Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, a trusted Dayton ally. The winner of a special election in November 2018 would serve through the end of Franken's term in January 2021.

Read Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.



Comments

ARMNAR says...

Yet the GOP continues to support a pedophile.

Posted 7 December 2017, 11:57 a.m. Suggest removal

Packman says...

If the allegations are false the guy should not have resigned. Pretty low class for him to take a departing shot at POTUS.
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Will be interesting to see the payoff he receives for resigning for the good of the "party". The obvious strategy is that the D's see this as removing an albatross from their necks so they can attack President Trump and soon to be elected Roy Moore with unbridled enthusiasm. One year from now Franken will be receiving big bucks from some useless "think tank" funded by George Soros. That or something similar will be Franken's payoff.

Posted 7 December 2017, 12:01 p.m. Suggest removal

hah406 says...

Or maybe he is a man of much more integrity than Trump. He knew what he did was wrong, admitted it, apologized, and resigned. But the GOP thinks it is OK to deny, deny, deny, never accept responsibility, and try to hold on to power. Better to elect a confessed sexual predator than a Democrat. Well, the old white men that make up the majority of the GOP are dying off. Within a few years they will be a permanent minority in both government and the general population.

Posted 7 December 2017, 12:08 p.m. Suggest removal

JakeTidmore says...

AS of now....Franken has resigned. Conyers has resigned. Trump has not; and Moore continues to run for office with more serious problems and accusers from his past than Franken or Conyers.
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From ARTimes:
No Republican member of Congress has called on President Donald Trump to resign despite accusations of sexual misconduct from at least 16 women. Trump bragged about getting away with sexual assault on a tape recording that was released shortly before the election.
Only one Republican member of Congress (Rep. Barbara Comstock of Virginia) has called on U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) to step down. Farenthold used $84,000 in taxpayer money in 2014 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former aide.
Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee this week moved funds into the Alabama Senate race, backing Roy Moore, who has been accused of molesting teenage girls.
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A couple days back, Mike Huckabee said it was OK for Moore to run because Democrats Franken and Conyers had not resigned. Now that they have resigned, will Huckabee continue his logic and ask Moore (and maybe even Trump!!) to take their shame and leave the political arena??
But, who ever thought we'd hear such crazy and perverted logic saying that choosing a pedophile was better than choosing a Democrat? Or a female press secretary telling us that 16+ women are lying while her pathological liar of a boss gets a free pass??
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When they say Red State, that now means that the Republicans there support candidates with a giant scarlet H (for hypocrite) branded on their forehead.

Posted 7 December 2017, 12:29 p.m. Suggest removal

GeneralMac says...

I don't think anyone should resign for any behavior PRIOR to taking office.

If what he did prior was a crime, take legal action to arrest him.

If it wasn't a crime, move on !

Posted 7 December 2017, 12:46 p.m. Suggest removal

Packman says...

Hey hah - Did you even hear Franken's remarks? I did. He never apologized. Essentially he said the women were either lying or he had a different recollection of events. He admitted to no wrongdoing whatsoever. Facts are important, hah, please try to stick with them.
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Hey amgoo - It's ALLEGED pedophile. BTW, you still calling Sarah Sanders a "whore"?

Posted 7 December 2017, 1:52 p.m. Suggest removal

TravisBickle says...

I missed the "Price is Right" showcase showdown to listen to Franken drone on and on with his dull and inarticulate prepared speech. How did that doofus ever get elected??!! He couldn't even speak without notes!!! And nothing like a parting shot at the POTUS. He should have kept his day job as a comedian. He sucked at that too!

Posted 7 December 2017, 1:55 p.m. Suggest removal

PopulistMom says...

Franken did the right thing. He was guilty of some indiscretions, but a couple of the stories had holes. If you watched his questioning of Gorsuch, you would realize that he was quite brilliant. However, the women's movement is on a roll, and it is not going to stop. Next stops, Moore and Trump though I am not quite sure whether Trump will fall due to Russiagate. Don Jr. pretty much admits that Trump Sr. was in the loop when he invokes the attorney-client privilege (which really does not apply).

Posted 7 December 2017, 2:02 p.m. Suggest removal

Jfish says...

I will have to stop you there Travis, I thought that Franken was an excellent writer and even did some hilarious skits (Stuart Smalley comes to mind). Of course his best work was back in the day when SNL was unbiased and did not have a political agenda. After Obama was elected, it was not politically correct to make fun of a black president. Oh they took a shot here and there, but it was nothing compared to the shots they took at Carter, Bush, Reagan, Gore, WBush, etc. Can you imagine SNL if Obama had been elected when Eddie Murphy was the star?

Posted 7 December 2017, 2:06 p.m. Suggest removal

Jmholstine says...

I suppose Al can continue and not 'give up his voice' when he returns to the cast of SNL and the comedy club circuit!

Posted 7 December 2017, 2:45 p.m. Suggest removal

gohogs17 says...

So long, auf wiedersehen, bye bye, Al!

Posted 7 December 2017, 3:05 p.m. Suggest removal

JakeTidmore says...

Now tis time to bid farewell to Roy Moore and Donnie Trump for the same reasons. Can't have double standards as our long-winded conservative parrot compadres like to squawk about. Time for the Republicans to cull their herd also.

Posted 7 December 2017, 3:11 p.m. Suggest removal

ARMNAR says...

Yep. Either Trump and Moore step aside, or the GOP will rightfully claim the title of "World's biggest hypocrites."

Oh...wait...they won that trophy during the Reagan years. Never mind.

Posted 7 December 2017, 3:34 p.m. Suggest removal

Packman says...

And amgoo and Jake parrot the DNC talking points of "now do Trump". These morons are so predictable.
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Franken only resigned for purely political purpose. That's now crystal clear. President Trump and Roy Moore need to resist 100% if they truly feel the did nothing wrong and say "to hell" with these political games.
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Hey amgoo - Know what other trophy R's won? Neal Gorsuch on SCOTUS. Choke on it, libs.

Posted 7 December 2017, 4:08 p.m. Suggest removal

PopulistMom says...

Packman,

We are just all too in the Christmas spirit waiting for more arrests in Russiagate. Don Jr. has the goods on Pop. LOL.

Posted 7 December 2017, 4:12 p.m. Suggest removal

TravisBickle says...

@jfish, I stand corrected, how could I forget the punk who wrote "Roman Vomitorium" back in his '70's SNL heyday?! He actually had two distinct periods on SNL, the 70's and again in the '90's. But he can not speak extemporaneously to save his life!!

Posted 7 December 2017, 4:18 p.m. Suggest removal

Delta123 says...

Al's farewell address, with all his well crafted language (Clintonian Clauses anyone?) was one for the books. Classic non-denial denial. "I know in my heart that nothing I have done as a senator — nothing — has brought dishonor on this institution". And who can forget this doozie..... "You know an important part of the conversation we've been having the last few months has been about how men abuse their power and privilege to hurt women. I am proud that during my time in the Senate I have used my power to be a champion of women. And that I have earned a reputation as someone who respects the women I work alongside everyday. I know there's been a very different picture of me painted over the last few weeks, but I know who I really am". So no, Al didn't really own up and depart in dignity, now did he?

Posted 7 December 2017, 4:28 p.m. Suggest removal

RBear says...

Regardless what Franken said, Democrats intervened on this and he is gone. He resigned of his own will and did the right thing. Trump makes abusive statements about women, has accusers, and supports a pedophile. Yes, that's why several of us are taking shots at Trump. His record of lying makes it hard to believe he is innocent.
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Roy Moore is an accused pedophile with women coming forward after gaining courage from the #MeToo campaign. While the time came after the primary date, it directly correlates to the #MeToo push. These women felt they didn't have a voice in a culture that often exonerated the male and made females feel like victims.
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Will Republicans do the right thing? We all thought they would a few weeks ago until they realized how razor thin their margin is in the Senate. Their selfish political interests overrule integrity. But that's no secret after seeing how they treated the tax reform bill which raises the debt and how they treated healthcare reform A party in moral decay.

Posted 7 December 2017, 5:36 p.m. Suggest removal

BoudinMan says...

Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) resigns today amid allegations against him of sexual abuse.

Posted 7 December 2017, 6:11 p.m. Suggest removal

JakeTidmore says...

So Packie supports pedophilia and groping women as long as the jerk doing it (and saying he's doing it) is a Republican. He's the worse kind of parrot - one with no feathers, for sure.
Rep. Franks (R) just resigned. Just maybe, there's some integrity left in the GOP (as long as you ignore several women with well-documented claims regarding Trump & Moore).
The Man Who Does Waffles Better Than Belgium Award goes to Tommy Cotton. "The people of Alabama are going to decide Roy Moore's fate," Sen. Tom Cotton said today. "The people of Alabama are going to make that decision just like the people of this country made their decision last year on Donald Trump."
Just like the spineless, morally-bankrupt Republicans who won't stand up for women, Cotton straddles the fence so hard his crotch his hurting.
Pukie - you DA goober, too many Republicans and independents are questioning Moore and Trump for you to falsely claim ANYBODY is parroting Democrats on this issue. If we're parroting anyone, it's honest folks who are tired of such men lying to the public. It's funny how you went eunuch all of a sudden now that Clinton & Franken are not the ones on the grill.

Posted 7 December 2017, 6:13 p.m. Suggest removal

Shearload says...

I think the Democrats are clearing out the distractions, hoping for a Moore win in Alabama. Moore will not resign. Trump shows no inclination to resign. The Democrats want to focus on these two predators next year.

Posted 7 December 2017, 7:58 p.m. Suggest removal

LR1955 says...

"I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and dog-gone it, people like me."
next

Posted 7 December 2017, 8:33 p.m. Suggest removal

PopulistMom says...

Good comments, RBear and Jake.

Posted 7 December 2017, 9:24 p.m. Suggest removal

Packman says...

Hey Jake - WTF is wrong with you? I never even remotely said I support pedophilia or unapproved groping. Are you drunk, again?

Posted 7 December 2017, 10:02 p.m. Suggest removal

PopulistMom says...

Packman,

If you support Trump, you support unapproved groping. If you support Moore, you support pedophilia. It's as simple as that.

Posted 8 December 2017, 5:23 a.m. Suggest removal

RBear says...

Agree PM. Tbis “let the voters decide” BS is a deflection from having to take s stand and hide behind the voters. Who cares what the voters think in this election when it comes to Moore’s sexual abuse history? You are either against it or support it.

Posted 8 December 2017, 6:43 a.m. Suggest removal

PopulistMom says...

I just saw Franken's latest accuser on CNN, and now, I am having buyer's remorse about thinking that he should resign. His latest accuser, Tina Dupuy, accused him of "groping" her when he placed his hand on her WAIST after she ASKED HIM to pose for a picture. She claims that he "grabbed her flesh" and that she felt uncomfortable because she had gained weight. She also seems to have a history of mental health issues. I think Franken got screwed in the name of Democratic political correctness so that they could take down Trump and Moore. Oh well....

Now, the story of the Republican congressman who resigned because he allegedly asked two staffers to serve as surrogate Moms, seems a little cagey as well. If this is all he did, it may have been inappropriate, but not really sexual harassment. I am assuming that there must be more to the story. If not, he is another victim of overreaction.

Posted 8 December 2017, 6:48 a.m. Suggest removal

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